Characters from "Ranma 1/2" were created by Rumiko Takahashi.

This fic is an adaptation of a cabaret piece called "Dinner for One." It achieved its greatest fame from being broadcast on German television every year on New Year's Eve. I don't know who the original author of "Dinner for One" is, but in its German incarnation, it starred the artiste Freddie Frinton.


Bad Ideas Gone Wrong Productions Presents

Same Procedure as Every Year, or: Dinner for One Half

A Fanfiction by Geoduck


Hikaru Gosunkugi gave the room one final inspection. The floors and walls were indeed spotless. He could smell the almost-finished meal in the kitchen. The atmosphere was warm and cozy. There was faint, almost unidentifiable music playing in the background. Just like Miss Tendo wanted it.

And the table was immaculately set, just as she specified. Five settings.

Of course, it would be only himself and Miss Tendo actually in the room. But there must be five place settings. That was the procedure. The same procedure as last year and the year before. The same procedure as every year.

It had been "same procedure every year" for at least 10 years now. Since Kasumi died. She had been Akane's last living relative, and the only person, besides himself, who would come to her birthday parties.

Who else would come to the birthday party of an 80-year-old spinster? Just a lonely 80-year-old man like himself.

He heard her in the next room. "Gosunkugi? Are you there?"

He moved to the doors and slid them open. "Yes, I'm here, Miss Tendo. If you'd like to, we can begin now."

His heart nearly stopped to look at her in her finest kimono. Even for a woman with eight full decades behind her, she was still lovely...to his eyes, at least.

Unfortunately, time had not been completely kind to her. She had difficulty kneeling down to the table, and he had to help ease her down. It was ironic, considering how much of a weakling he had been as a boy, that he was in better physical condition than her today.

And of course, with so many years that had passed by, he could at least talk to her and even occasionally come into physical contact with her without going into a trace anymore. Fortunately.

"So, Gosunkugi, it's my eightieth birthday today."

"Yes, Miss Tendo. It certainly is."

"Are all my friends here today?"

"Yes Miss Tendo. Here to your left," Gosunkugi motioned to an empty place setting, "is your old school friend, Tatewaki Kuno."

Akane smiled, remembering the swordsman. "Hello, Kuno-sempai."

"Across the table from you, towards your left is Ryoga Hibiki."

Akane smiled wider, and waved. "Ryoga-kun! Thank you for coming!"

"Across the table, toward the right side is Ranma Saotome."

"Ranma. Hello!"

"And seated directly to your right, as you requested, is Shinnosuke, uh..." Gosunkugi paused, as he couldn't remember if he knew what Shinnosuke's family name was. "...who, uh, came all the way from Ryugenzawa just to see you."

"Hello, Shinnosuke. So good to see you."

Akane paused for a moment, expectantly. She then looked at Hikaru. "Why haven't they said anything to me?"

Gosunkugi sighed. This was the part he hated. Perhaps... "Do I have to, Miss Tendo?"

"Please, Gosunkugi. For me. The same procedure as every year."

Gosunkugi shuffled around the table, kneeling at the place setting to Akane's left. "Same procedure as every year," he muttered.

He looked down for a moment, then faced Akane. "Greeting, Akane Tendo, and many felicitations to your natal day," he said, in as deep a voice as he could muster.

Akane smiled. "Thank you, Kuno-sempai."

As quickly as he could, Gosunkugi moved to the next place. "H-happy birthday, Akane-san. I've got some souvenirs for you from my last trip."

"Maybe later, Ryoga-kun. Thank you."

Another place setting over. "Yo, tomboy," he said as slangy as he could, "another year older, eh? Well, beats the alternative."

Akane scrunched up her nose. "Nice of you to say, RANMA." But she couldn't stay irritated. "Thanks, anyway."

Gosunkugi moved to the last space. "Uh...hello, whoever you are. Have we met? What am I doing here, anyway?"

"Thanks for coming to my party, Shinnosuke."

Once again portraying himself, Gosunkugi stood up again. "So. Shall I serve dinner?"

Akane looked almost cross. "Of course not. A drink before dinner. I shall take wine, but I believe the gentlemen prefer beer."

"Same procedure as every year," Gosunkugi muttered under his breath. He had seen this coming, and so had a bottle of white wine on ice in the kitchen...and four bottles of Asahi.

In short order, he poured the wine for Akane, and filled the glasses at each of the four empty places. When the pouring was complete, Akane lifted up her glass and looked to the place at her left. "So. Kuno-sempai."

Gosunkugi kneeled in Kuno's place and lifted up the glass. "To your health, Akane Tendo, and best wishes to you." He slugged down the beer as quickly as he could.

Akane looked at the next place. "Ryoga-kun."

"Kanpai!" Again, Gosunkugi swallowed the drink down.

She towards the right. "Ranma."

"Here's mud in your eye." Somewhat slower, he drank the third beer.

And directly to her right. "Shinnosuke."

"Huh? What am I doing here? Who are all you people, anyway?" And beer number four.

Akane lightly sipped at her wine, then set the glass down. "That was a nice wine, Gosukugi."

"Th-hank you," he slurred slightly. No...I can't get drunk yet, he thought. There's so much yet to come...

"I think I'd like to have dinner now, Gosunkugi. What's for dinner?"

"Erm...you think that perhaps we could wait for a minute or two?" The beer was making Gosunkugi feel quite heady, and he could really do with a sit down about now.

"Well, I could, but I believe my gentlemen friends would like to eat now, if that's not too much trouble, Gosunkugi."

Gosunkugi winced. "Of course not. We'll be eating eel tonight, Miss Tendo."

"I like eel very much, Gosunkugi."

"I know, Miss Tendo."

"I will have tea with my meal, Gosunkugi. The gentleman will have sake."

"Same procedure..." Gosunkugi didn't even bother to finish the thought anymore.

Gosunkugi rolled a trolley laden with food from the kitchen. He set a tray, one dinner on each before each place.

The beverages came next. He set a pot of tea in front of Akane and let her serve herself. He then poured a generous amount of sake in all the remaining places. It had to be a generous amount. That was the procedure.

Akane closed her eyes and smelled deeply. "It smells delicious. I can hardly wait." Once again, she looked expectantly to her left. Gosunkugi once more got into position.

"A veritable cornucopia of earthly delights this feast is. And to eat in such glorious company as you, Akane Tendo, is more than this humble swordsman deserves." Gosunkugi downed the first cup of sake and moved to the next plate.

"A-Akane-shan...did you cook thish yourshelf? I can hardly wait!" Another drink tossed straight down his gullet.

"Yo. Tommm-boy." Gosunkugi hiccuped. He was VERY obviously slurring his speech now. "You...you DIDN'T cook thish, right? Caushe...caushe I don't feel like being poish...poishoned." Once more, he coaxed the drink passed his teeth.

"Whoo...whoo are you? Whoo am I? Why is the shky blue, mommy? Why are there monshtersh under my bed?" Gosunkugi reached for the last cup of sake and nearly collapsed onto the table, but in a noble effort, picked it up, and brought it to his lips. Most of the liquid, ran over the sides and dripped onto his plate, but Akane either did not notice, or did not care.

Akane smiled as she ate a tiny amount of her meal, chased by a single cup of green tea. Delicately she dabbed at her mouth. "The meal was delicious, Gosunkugi."

"Thank y... Thank y... Thank y... Aw hell, you're welcome," Gosunkugi belched out the best he could. He was in a bad way.

"Would you pour one more glass of wine for me, Gosunkugi."

Gosunkugi looked at her with bleary eyes. "Ah, I guessh sho...why not? It'sh the old bird'sh birthday..." With an unsteady hand, he filled Akane's wineglass one more time, then even more unsteadily filled the glasses at the other places of the table. At least one of the glasses ended up entirely empty due to his bad aim.

Akane raised her glass to her left. "Thank you for coming to my party, Kuno-sempai."

"Aah, why not? Nothin' better to do, right?" `Kuno' drank his wine.

"I'm so happy you were here, Ryoga-kun."

"Let'sh...let'sh PARTY!"

"Ranma, thank you for being here."

"Yeah, yeah. Don't hit me."

"Shinnosuke. I'm glad to see you again."

"WHY MEEEEE?"

With another sip, Akane set her wine glass down. Gosunkugi lay down on the floor, waiting for the ground to stop waving back and forth. "'me prosheedure...every year..."

"Gosunkugi?"

He remained silent.

"Gosunkugi?"

"Er...what?"

"I've had a nice time at my party, Gosunkugi, but I think I'll retire now."

"Yer...yer going to bed?"

"Yes, Gosunkugi. I'm going to bed. Could you help me up please?"

With a superhuman effort, doing his best not to think about binge drinking, Gosunkugi pick himself onto all fours, then his knees, then finally stood up. He shuffled over to Akane, and reached down to assist her to her feet.

The two walked towards the stairs, she leaning into him slightly, he doing the best he could not to fall down. With effort, they began to walk up the stairs.

"I hope you don't mind helping me get ready for bed, do you Gosunkugi?"

Gosunkugi closed his eyes briefly to extinguish the bright lights that were going off there. "Of...of course not, Miss Tendo."

"Yes." They climbed another few stairs, and were nearly at the top.

"And then, Gosunkugi...when I'm ready for bed...afterwards...could you..."

"Yes, Miss Tendo?"

"Well...since it is my birthday..."

"Same..." He hiccuped. "Same procedure as last year?"

"Same procedure as every year, Gosunkugi," she said and smiled.

"Same procedure as every year, Gosunkugi," he repeated.

He looked down to the ground, as if mustering up all his strength. Finally, he returned her gaze. "Well, Miss Tendo." He looked at her with all the fortitude he could muster. "I promise I'll do my very best."

END


Author's Notes: The story was originally written (and posted) several years ago. I took it down for reasons of my own, but I thought I'd like to put it back up again.

I have nothing against Akane. Indeed, she is my favorite of all of Ranma's suitors, and I certainly go along with the Ranma/Akane canon. But for the purposes of this fic, it was more appropriate to have Akane be a spinster rather than a widow. So please keep that in mind before authoring your angry emails, okay? ^_^

On honorifics: Usually, I do not care for honorifics in fanfiction. For the purposes of this fic, however, I found them useful in differentiating how the different "characters" refer to Akane, and vice-versa.

And, just to avoid the obvious question in advance...yes, that last bit in the story means exactly what you think it means.